Wednesday’s Preseason Results

Wednesday’s Preseason Results
At Flagler Palm Coast

Flagler Palm Coast 72, Atlantic 12
106: Burke (FPC) p. Wiggins, 1:46. 113: Johnson (FPC) p. Balmer, :59. 120: Sheppard (FPC) p. Rustamiy, :30. 126: Butler (FPC) p. Laloo, 1:54. 132: DeAugustino (FPC) pin G. Duboy, :29. 138: Holder (FPC) p. A. Duboy, :42. 145: Martins (FPC) p. Rideout, 4:36. 152: Funk (FPC) p. Rayborn, 4:56. 160: Brock (FPC) p. Coleman, :46. 170: Jordan (A) p. Caufield, 3:38. 182: Thomas (FPC) fft. 195: Muniz (FPC) p. Mulberry, 5:42. 220: Irigoyen (FPC) p. Castro, :26. 285: Hamilton (A) p. Roman, :31.

Atlantic 43, Middleburg 42 (criteria)
106: Hampton (M) p. Wiggins, :56. 113: Benton (M) p. Balmer, :41. 120: Christie (M) p. Rustamiy, :31. 126: Burch (M) p. Laloo, 3:34. 132: Ganion (M) p. G. Duboy, :25. 138: Mercado (M) p. A. Duboy, :39. 145: Rideout (A) p. Tollison, 3:25. 152: Higginbotham (M) p. Edmonds, 2:45. 160: Coleman (A) p. Nayflack, :29. 170: Butcher (A) fft. 182: Jordan (A) fft. 195: Dono (A) fft. 220: Castro (A) fft. 285: Jackson (A) fft.

Flagler Palm Coast 68, Sandalwood 9
106: Burke (FPC) fft. 113: Johnson (FPC) p. Daltro, 2:14. 120: Sheppard (FPC) md. Cruz, 12-0. 126: Dance (FPC) p. Sutton, :12. 132: DeAugustino (FPC) p. Gullen, :22. 138: Holder p. Owens, :28. 145: Martins (FPC) p. Murphy, 1:18. 152: Brown (S) p. McCleod, 4:20. 160. Brock (FPC) p. Mendez, :28. 170: Caufield (FPC) p. Kearney, 2:50. 182: Thomas (FPC) md. Morency, 15-6. 195: Alonzo (S) d. Muniz, 14-13. 220: Irigoyen (FPC) p. Smith, 1:05. 285: Roman (FPC) p. Newkirk, :17.

Sandalwood 48, Middleburg 33
106: Hampton (M) fft. 113: Benton (M) p. Daltro, :30. 120: Cruz (S) p. Christie, 3:58. 126: Burch (M) p. Sutton, :54. 132: Ganion (M) p. Gullen, 1:06. 138: Mercado (M) p. Owens, 1:32. 145: Higginbotham (M) d. Murphy, 9-4. 152: Brown (S) p. Tollison, :38. 160: Mendez (S) p. Nayflack, 3:20. 170: Kearney (S) fft. 182: Morency (S) fft. 195: Alonzo (S) fft. 220: Smith (S) fft. 285: Newkirk (S) fft.

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TurkeyNWrestling: Hey Guys, My Bad

Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I get it really right. Sometimes I get it wrong. Sometimes I get it really wrong. If you were ready to toss your phone or laptop through a window because I either A) ranked you too low or B) ranked you too high in your district, maybe this will set your mind at ease.

Or not. Perhaps only a healthy dose of tryptophan, football and pre-Black Friday shopping will do that.

Anyway, let’s set the Wayback machine to a year ago today — give or take a day or two — and see how I did with last year’s predictions, which included my first ones for 1A-1 and 2A-1.

Let the laughter ensue! (or not). But first, a little data…gotta have a little stuffing to go with that turkey…

We were 8-for-10 on picking champions last year. And, to be very fair, the two where we missed had evidence (in the form of mid-season duals where our pick won over the eventual champ) that went our way, suggesting we were on to something. Or on something. Hard to say. Need more pumpkin pie and some time to reflect on this.

We were 7-for-10 on picking last-place teams last year. So, if I picked your team to win, don’t get over-confident, and if I picked your team last, go get to work, kids.

It’s the middle where things get muddled. I only got the top three right in two of the 10 districts, and one of those had fully half of the teams outside my coverage area. Only 2A-District 2, a five-team district last year and this year, was an in-area district picked right through the top 3.

So take heart. Look at Bradford, which leapfrogged from a predicted 7th to 3rd last year. Look at Bozeman, from 5th to second, at Fletcher, from 6th to 3rd, and at Bay/Eastside, both from 7th to 4th. Where you’re projected today is just that: a projection.

Dig in, not too much, to your dinners today (your coaches are counting on you and sweating, just a little bit, all day today), and I’ll see you on the mats soon enough.

1A-District 1:

Predicted: 1. Arnold. 2. Marianna. 3. Mosley. 4. Wewahitchka. 5. Bozeman. 6. South Walton. 7. Bay. 8. North Bay Haven. 9. Rutherford. 10. Rocky Bayou Christian.
Actual: 1. Arnold. 2. Bozeman. 3. Wewahitchka. 4. Bay. 5. Marianna. 6. Rutherford. 7. South Walton. 8. Mosley. 9. North Bay Haven. 10. Rocky Bayou Christian.
Analysis: I missed most with respect to Bozeman in terms of under-rating the Bucks’ performance at districts, which was really solid. Marianna took more hits above and beyond the transfers I knew about, but some of those have returned this year. Bay and Rutherford was also better last year than I would have predicted. I over-ranked Mosley, but I believe the Dolphins would have finished much higher if the kids in their lineup at mid-season would have wrestled in the post-season.

1A-District 2:

Predicted: 1. Florida High. 2. Wakulla. 3. Suwannee. 4. Godby. 5. North Florida Christian. 6. Rickards.
Actual: 1. Wakulla. 2. Florida High. 3. Suwannee. 4. Godby. 5. North Florida Christian. 6. Rickards.
Analysis: I thought I was going to be correct on this one when the Seminoles beat the War Eagles in a dual, but when it counted, Wakulla had just enough to make me wrong (although, I should point out, the gap between teams was just 10 points). The gap was really, really small. I had the rest of the district pegged accurately, but when you consider North Florida Christian’s performance at regions and states last year, it was a pretty impressive close-out.

1A-District 3:

Predicted: 1. Clay. 2. Yulee. 3. West Nassau. 4. Baker County. 5. Westside. 6. Raines. 7. Bishop Snyder. 8. Fernandina Beach.
Actual: 1. Clay. 2. Yulee. 3. Westside. 4. West Nassau. 5. Baker County. 6. Bishop Snyder. 7. Raines. 8. Fernandina Beach.
Analysis: The top two teams were pretty much a given. I knew Westside’s middles were going to be good, but I didn’t expect their freshmen to show up and shine like they did. At the same time, West Nassau had some stellar kids not come out last year that I thought would (like Marianna, a couple of those are back now). I thought Raines would have a couple more kids than they did, and Bishop Snyder took a step upward I thought might be hard to take.

1A-District 4:

Predicted: 1. Bishop Kenny. 2. Bolles. 3. Pedro Menendez. 4. Episcopal. 5. University Christian. 6. Wolfson. 7. Bradford. 8. FSDB.
Actual: 1. Bishop Kenny. 2. Bolles. 3. Bradford. 4. Wolfson. 5. Pedro Menendez. 6. University Christian. 7. Episcopal. 8. FSDB.
Analysis: I’m a little stubborn, but I finally got the top two teams picked right, but it’s 1A-4, so I’m fated to blow it in some way, shape or form, and it came through the insurgency of Bradford and Wolfson, which made major strides in the district race last year. Pedro Menendez might have held to my prediction had they had their mid-season lineup in for districts, and I expected Episcopal to have a few more experienced kids back than it did.

1A-District 5:

Predicted: 1. Crystal River. 2. Palatka. 3. Trinity Catholic. 4. North Marion. 5. Dunnellon. 6. Interlachen. 7. Eastside. 8. St. John Lutheran.
Actual: 1. Crystal River. 2. Palatka. 3. Trinity Catholic. 4. Eastside. 5. Leesburg. 6. Dunnellon. 7. Interlachen.
Analysis: First the positives. Getting the top three right isn’t easy to do. But with so many teams having partial teams in this district, it’s easier here than almost anywhere else. Now the rest of it. When two teams you think will have a program don’t (North Marion, St John Lutheran) and one you don’t know about does (Leesburg), makes it tough to predict. The big winner was Eastside, though, moving from projected seventh to fourth. Well done.

2A-District 1:

Predicted: 1. Pace. 2. Ft Walton Beach. 3. Niceville. 4. Choctaw. 5. Gulf Breeze. 6. Tate. 7. Crestview. 8. Milton.
Actual: 1. Pace. 2. Gulf Breeze. 3. Tate. 4. Niceville. 5. Choctaw. 6. Crestview. 7. Ft Walton Beach. 8. Milton.
Analysis: This one was the one I felt the least comfortable with, and boy howdy did it show. Props to the Patriots for making me at least right on the winner, but I made a hash of it on the rest of the slots, with Gulf Breeze and Tate, for different reasons, showing me a lot more than I would have expected. Suppose I probably put too much of a target on FWB than they were ready for. Blame the Gulfside amateur on that one. We’ll do better this year.

2A-District 2:

Predicted: 1. Lincoln. 2. Chiles. 3. Columbia. 4. Leon. 5. Gainesville.
Actual: 1. Lincoln. 2. Chiles. 3. Columbia. 4. Gainesville. 5. Leon.
Analysis: This one was pretty solid, where I had the top three right. I did think Chiles and Columbia would be close for second, and with both teams missing one or two key kids, it wound up staying pretty close. Leon had a couple more holes in the district lineup than I projected the Lions to have, but even still it was pretty close to Gainesville. I keep getting closer and closer to having a pretty good handle on this one. Not bad for four years now.

2A-District 3:

Predicted: 1. Orange Park. 2. Ridgeview. 3. Middleburg. 4. Englewood. 5. Terry Parker. 6. Ed White. 7. Stanton.
Actual: 1. Orange Park. 2. Middleburg. 3. Ridgeview. 4. Englewood. 5. Terry Parker. 6. Stanton. 7. Ed White.
Analysis: For the most part, we did a pretty good job with this one. We might have had Ridgeview second a year early, and Middleburg had a pretty decent crop of freshmen come up from Wilkinson to help balance out their stars, plus the Broncos had a first-year (varsity at least) senior state placer at heavy. We did think Ed White would have more kids than it did for the post-season, plus Stanton had a few more out than previously planned.

2A-District 4:

Predicted: 1. Bartram Trail. 2. Creekside. 3. Nease. 4. Matanzas. 5. St. Augustine. 6. Ponte Vedra. 7. Paxon.
Actual: 1. Creekside. 2. Bartram Trail. 3. Nease. 4. Matanzas. 5. St. Augustine. 6. Ponte Vedra. 7. Paxon.
Analysis: We really had a good handle on this district. Yes? Well…I am not sure what motivational techniques were brought to bear in the Knights’ room between mid-January and mid-February, but whatever was done, it worked. Creekside hadn’t been first since 2014 (when the Knights tied for first with Matanzas), and that’s a powerful motivator. Otherwise, we really did have a good handle on this district.

3A-District 1:

Predicted: 1. Fleming Island. 2. Flagler Palm Coast. 3. Buchholz. 4. Oakleaf. 5. Sandalwood. 6. Fletcher. 7. Robert E. Lee. 8. Mandarin. 9. Atlantic Coast. 10. First Coast.
Actual: 1. Fleming Island. 2. Flagler Palm Coast. 3. Fletcher. 4. Sandalwood. 5. Buchholz. 6. Oakleaf. 7. Mandarin. 8. Robert E. Lee. 9. Atlantic Coast. 10. First Coast.
Analysis: Well, we got the bookends right with this one. Where things went awry was in the middle. Buchholz as a team probably had its worst tournament of the year at districts, by its own admission, and Oakleaf did not have as many kids back as I thought the Knights would have. Sandalwood hung around the top a little stronger, but it was Fletcher that really put things together last year, as their Gateway showing proved and re-proved with the third at districts.

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TurkeyNWrestling: 3A-District 1

Team synopsis: Fleming Island has won or shared each of the past three 3A-District 1 titles.

While a fourth consecutive win isn’t entirely a slam-dunk proposal — there I go mixing metaphors again — the Golden Eagles should be favored to take that fourth consecutive title when the 10 3A teams in the coverage area convene at Oakleaf on Friday, February 16.

It won’t be easy. First is the task of replacing four state qualifiers — including 2017 state champion Jason Davis, now at Southeastern. But the Golden Eagles can call upon a loaded room made even more so by the transfer of two former 1A state medalists. And they still have three 2017 state podium-finishers — all of whom will challenge for the top spot in March — returning.

One thing that will benefit Fleming is its deep room. In all, there are 14 wrestlers that had at least 15 matches, most of those with deep post-season runs in 2017.

The last team to win 3A-1 outright was Flagler Palm Coast, and once again it will be the Bulldogs that are most likely to succeed in knocking Fleming off. With defending champion Avery Holder and three-time medalist Michael DeAugustino, himself a solid champion contender, leading a strong group of Flagler seniors, this year might be the best opportunity for anyone to knock off the Golden Eagles. Flagler has 10 wrestlers back — nine that were post-season starters a year ago — and will be very tough, particularly from 106/113 through 160.

Can anyone break the stranglehold that Fleming and Flagler have on the 1-2 spots? I don’t think this year’s the year, but the likeliest up to the task would have to be Buchholz. The Bobcats return 10 post-season starters from last year’s team and only one of those is a senior this year.

From there, the water’s a bit murkier in determining 4-10. Mandarin has the deepest group of returners; the key for the Mustangs will be winning some matches in which they’re not favored. Oakleaf has nine kids back also, and has had a substantial off-season. Fletcher lost a big-performing class to graduation, but the size of the Senators’ room should keep them in most events. Likewise, Sandalwood’s graduation losses will be difficult to overcome, but a sizable group of sophomores can grow together.

I still believe, even with some projected returners not back, that First Coast has some developments in progress. A top-half showing in the district would be a big ask, but the Buccaneers have a lot of returners back and those returners have taken some positive steps. Lee will have talent where they have lineup spots filled, but last year had no one below 132 in the lineup, and filling those spots doesn’t get easier. Atlantic Coast has some good upperweights, but will need to fill the middles and get more wins from its lowerweights as well.

Projected finish: 1. Fleming Island. 2. Flagler Palm Coast. 3. Buchholz. 4. Mandarin. 5. Oakleaf. 6. Fletcher. 7. Sandalwood. 8. Robert E. Lee. 9. First Coast. 10. Atlantic Coast.

Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville)
Coach: Robert Reidell, 1st year.
2016-17: 7-10 in duals. 4th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 5th at Gateway Conference, 6th at 5 Star Invitational, 4th at Westside Duals.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 9th at district, 22nd at region, T-58th at states. 2016 — 5th at district, 13th at region, 25th at states. 2015 — 8th at district, T-28th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Kevin Thompson (junior, 11-20 at 120, 0-2 at districts); Marco Hunter (senior, 14-20 at 126, 0-2 at districts); Seth McQuaig (senior, 9-12 at 160, did not compete in post-season); Uriah Ford (senior, 26-9 at 182, 0-2 at districts); Jamari Broussard (senior, 23-6 at 195, 1 match from regions); Darius Idlebird (junior, 13-5 at 285, 0-2 at districts).
Key losses (graduation): Tywaine Rochebrun (145, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Kurk Jackson (220, district 4th, region 4th, 1 match from state medal).
Program strengths: Coaching experience, with Reidell assisting for Terry Parker in prior seasons, plus the years of experience brought by Stingray assistant Forest Wheeler, who most recently was HC at West Nassau. Ford and Broussard are a decent tandem of uppers, a full season for Broussard could be very interesting.
Program needs: Middleweight experience is lacking. Program will need a leader on the mat to replace Rochebrun and Jackson, who made a surprise run to states with a late momentum surge. Mat time will be key.
Matmen’s take: With Reidell taking over, it’s the third coaching staff in as many seasons. We thought there would be growing pains last year, but a top-5 showing at conference showed some mid-season promise. But, with just one returner that won a post-season match last year, it could be another complicated reboot this winter.

Buchholz (Gainesville)
Coach: Billy Pankey, 12th year.
2016-17: 20-6 in duals. 3rd at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 16th at Lyman Invitational, 8th at Tournament of Champions, 9th at George Jenkins IBT, 13th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 5th at district, T-10th at region, T-21st at states; 2016 — 3rd at district, 15th at region, T-61st at states. 2015 — 3rd at district, 13th at region, T-30th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Bryan Perkins (junior, 41-17 at 106, district 3rd, region 3rd, 1 match from state medal); Hunter Griffin (junior, 13-22 at 113, 1 match from regions); William Green-Church (junior, 29-20 at 120, 1 match from regions); DeAngelo Fletcher (junior, 20-23 at 126, 1 match from regions); Brandon Thomas (sophomore, 6-14 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season); William Kverneland (sophomore, 7-12 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season); Michael Rollins (junior, 18-23 at 138, 1 match from regions); Tracen Ransdell (junior, 21-18 at 145, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Jordan Mobley (senior, 24-23 at 152, district 4th, 1 match from states); Armando Acosta (sophomore, 40-19 at 182, district 4th, 2-2 at regions); Nevan Burney (sophomore, 11-22 at 195, 0-2 at districts); Aaron Menden (senior, 23-24 at 285, 0-2 at districts).
Key losses (graduation): Gant Moore (132, district champ, region 3rd, 4th at states); Dylan Lewis (170, 1 match from regions); Jose Romero (220, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Solid depth in the room and off-season mat time are critical good things to have. Coaching continuity is a continued plus. Getting experience at the state tournament each of the past few years is a big boost for the younger kids coming up.
Program needs: Bobcats will have to sort out its depth in the middles and kids will have to earn and keep those spots. There will be a leadership vacuum needed filling, with Moore gone this season.
Matmen’s take: With so many juniors in the lineup, the Bobcats could have a decent season and still be a year away yet at the same time, which is a good problem to have. With the exception of just one tournament last year (unfortunately, it was districts), Buchholz was a contender in every event it entered, and should be once again this year.

First Coast (Jacksonville)
Coach: Brian Kaminski, 3rd year.
2016-17: 15-14 in duals. 11th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 8th at Battle of the Border, 7th at Gateway Conference.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 10th at district. 2016 — 10th at district, T-35th at region. 2015 — 5th at district, 12th at region, T-23rd at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights)*: Jason Schwartz (junior, 27-7 at 113, 1 match from regions); Seanjohn Adams (junior, 23-13 at 120, 1-2 at districts); Brian Austin (senior, 14-23 at 145, 0-2 at districts); Austin Mims (junior, 12-21 at 152, 0-2 at districts); Devante Wyatt (sophomore, 25-17 at 160, 1 match from regions); Elijah Wilcox (senior, 16-12 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Valois Ochoa (junior, 32-9 at 182, 0-2 at districts).
Key losses (graduation): Trever Bruce (195, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Returning experience in the lower and middle weights will be the Buccaneers’ best advantage in kicking off the season. Gradual but increasing sense of continuity in the program.
Program needs: Although Ochoa’s first year with the program was a solid one, getting more bigs in the lineup along with him is a must. Offseason wrestling might have helped this group.
Matmen’s take: After consistent post-season presence, last year’s group was shut out of regions. Buccaneers will be more experienced this year; that experience should help avoid that fate this year, but the key issue will be whether they will take a couple of steps forward beyond simply having regional representation.
* — Matmen records, Westside Duals results not included in those.

Flagler Palm Coast (Palm Coast)
Coach: Tommy Bartolotta, 6th year.
2016-17: 15-0 in duals. 3rd at Border Wars, 2nd at Lyman Invitational, 6th at Knockout Christmas Classic, 1st at Corey Hill Invitational, 2nd at Flagler Rotary, 1st at Five Star Conference.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 2nd at district, 3rd at region, 10th at states. 2016 — 2nd at district, 3rd at region, 8th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 1st at region, 5th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Christian Sheppard (junior, 31-17 at 106, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); John Johnson (junior, 106/113, did not compete in post-season*); Michael DeAugustino (senior, 54-3 at 120, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states); Avery Holder (senior, 50-1 at 126, district champ, region champ, state champion); Michael Martins (senior, 41-10 at 138, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Curtis Brock (junior, 37-18 at 152, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Jason Muniz (senior, 7-8 at 195, did not compete in post-season); Tyler Irigoyen (junior, 32-15 at 220, district runnerup, 1 match from states).
Key additions: Nathan St. Pierre (senior, injured last year, 24-14 at 132 in 2015-16, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Wilbur Thomas (senior, transfer from Atlantic, 1A-District 7 runnerup, 1A-Region 2 runnerup, 1 match from 1A state medal).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Damion Figouera (132, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions, transferred out-of-state); Tyrone Jones (145, district runnerup, region 3rd, 1 match from state medal, left school); Keith Boswell (160, district 4th, 2-2 at regions); Steve Canidate (170, district champ, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Eddie Bryant (182, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Vincent Ebanks (285, district champ, 1 match from states).
Program strengths: Program has leadership on the mat for days in DeAugustino and Holder. Through 152 and perhaps all the way up to 170, this team is as tough as teams come. Strong sense of identity and tradition of excellence.
Program needs: Bulldogs will need upper-weight starters — besides Thomas and Irigoyen, who are solid — to take significant steps forward in 2017-18. Young guys in the program need to find ways to shine and push the starters.
Matmen’s take: Should be another season in which the Bulldogs will challenge for top-five tournament showings in every event, if not even higher than that. FPC should have at least two threats to win state brackets in March, probably a few more medals as well. If uppers can be replaced, Bulldogs will push Fleming Island hard.
* — Not all individual results reported to Matmen in 2016-17.

Fleming Island (Orange Park)
Coach: PJ Cobbert, 10th year.
2016-17: 17-0 in duals. 5th at Clash of the Titans, 3rd at Lyman Invitational, 4th at Knockout Christmas Classic, 4th at Tournament of Champions, 1st at Kowboy Invitational, 3rd at Flagler Rotary, 1st at Clay Rotary.
Other post-season stats: 2017 — 1st at district, 1st at region, 2nd at states. 2016 — 1st at district, 1st at region, 6th at states. 2015 — T-1st at district, 2nd at region, 7th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Briar Jackson (junior, 52-6 at 106, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Albie Snedaker (senior, 17-3 at 113, district champ, region champ, 1-2 at states); Jacob Sandoval (senior, 38-17 at 126, district runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Trace Insalaco (junior, 29-10 at 132, district 3rd, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Dalton Williams (sophomore, 16-14 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Vince Hauser (junior, 26-17 at 138, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Luke Chop (sophomore, 15-16 at 145, 1 match from regions); Paul Detwiler (senior, 50-5 at 152, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states); Ian Kincaid (senior, 6-10 at 160, did not compete in post-season); Jalyn Robinson (senior, 32-18 at 170, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Ryan Smenda (senior, 48-7 at 195, district champ, region runnerup, 5th at states); Jose Concepcion (senior, 51-13 at 285, district runnerup, region 3rd, 6th at states).
Key additions: Louie Gagliardo (junior, transfer from Clay, 47-7 at 106, 1A-District 3 champ, 1A-Region 1 champ, 3rd at 1A states); Jaquan English (senior, transfer from Raines, 52-11 at 126, 1A-District 3 runnerup, 1A-Region 1 4th, 1-2 at 1A states).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): DeAndre Demus (120, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1-2 at states, transferred to Nease); Ben Sann (160, district champ, region runnerup); Jason Davis (182, district champ, region champ, state champion); Brandyne Mackey (220, district champ, region 3rd, 6th at state).
Program strengths: Powerhouse room that has won or shared the last three district titles makes in-room competition often stronger than some of team’s competition outside it. Golden Eagles wrestle one of the state’s strongest schedules that should prep kids for February. Extensive off-season work should continue to pay off.
Program needs: Not many if any weaknesses in this group, but it’s always a challenge to replace two state medalists. Leadership style on the mat will be different this year as a result.
Matmen’s take: It’s not often that teams can be considered better after losing three state qualifiers (two of them medalists, one a champion), but that might be the case for Fleming this year. Tremendous amount of depth from 106-160 will make the fight for starting spots a difficult one, which is a good problem to have for Golden Eagles.

Fletcher (Jacksonville)
Coach: David Harrison, 4th year.
2016-17: 24-7 in duals. 1st at Gateway Conference, T-10th at Flagler Rotary, T-26th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 3rd at district, T-10th at region, T-21st at states. 2016 — 7th at district, 22nd at region, T-68th at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 14th at region, T-62nd at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights)*: James Knox (senior, 27-11 at 126, 1 match from regions); Douglas Tappin (junior, 20-12 at 132, 1 match from regions); Ivante White (junior, 11-12 at 132, did not compete in post-season); Tyson Petrie (sophomore, 6-9 at 138/145, did not compete in post-season); Donovan Tompkins (senior, 4-8 at 152, 0-2 at districts); Stone Rockhill (junior, 9-9 at 152, did not compete in post-season); Mathew Rigor (sophomore, 3-9 at 182, 0-2 at districts); Matthew Strong (junior, 5-2 at 182/195 prior to season-ending injury, did not compete in post-season); Stanley Hollenbach (junior, 20-14 at 285, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Rayquan Piper (113, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Trent Dalldorf (120, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Matt Moffitt (138, 1 match from regions); Owen Beining (160, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Julion Fix (170, district 4th); Narek Stepanyan (195, district runnerup, region champ, state runnerup); Darrell McBride (220, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Bryce Bednarski (220, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Some depth in the middle — even beyond what’s listed as “returning” here — will be a good starting point in defending the Gateway crown this season. There’s been more commitment to off-season work than has been the case (for the team as a whole) in seasons past.
Program needs: Finding a couple of leaders (Knox has been one this off-season) is going to be key to the Senators’ success. Also, finding consistency among the Fletcher bigs that are back will be a crucial variable.
Matmen’s take: The last time that the Senators lost a senior class like this past year’s group, it took a couple of years for them to dig out and return to the top of the Gateway. There’s more depth in the cupboard than there was last time, but a lot of that depth is mostly unproven and needs to grow up quickly.
* — records not 100% known, used many records reported to district site due to partially-missing results.

Mandarin (Jacksonville)
Coach: John Evans, 5th year.
2016-17: 18-7 in duals. 1st at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 3rd at Rob Bierbaum Invitational, 4th at Gateway Conference, 19th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 7th at district, T-23rd at region. 2016 — 8th at district, 33rd at region. 2015 — 6th at district, 27th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Mitchell Conover (sophomore, 11-13 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Gunner Stier (junior, 33-11 at 126, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Julian Trerotola (sophomore, 10-15 at 132, 0-2 at districts); Jamison Harris (junior, 17-11 at 132, did not compete in post-season); Jake Kamins (junior, 14-7 at 138, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Noah Colbert-Santana (senior, 19-18 at 145, 0-2 at districts); Tyriq’ue Murry (senior, 8-13 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Gavin Miles (senior, 27-14 at 182, 1 match from regions); Kevin Castro (junior, 11-13 at 195, 0-2 at districts).
Key addition: Luke Hopkins (junior, projected 126 this year, transfer from Ohio).
Key losses (graduation): Chase Mattox (120, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Adam Spikes (152, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Blake Pruitt (160, 0-2 at districts); Andrew Hudgins (220, 0-2 at districts); Kyle Redding (285, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Like Fletcher, there’s depth to be had in the middleweights for Mandarin, with most of its returning experience found there. Numbers continue to be solid. A bit more travel outside Jacksonville this year, with events at Yulee and Clay on the calendar, which is always helpful.
Program needs: More kids at the bookend sides of the lineup would be helpful; from 132 through 195, the lineup seems mostly set. Just three returners had post-season victories in 2017.
Matmen’s take: Mustangs could finish anywhere from fourth to eighth in district in February. Where they actually finish will have, in large part, a lot to do with how they’ll perform in the 50-50 matches they’ll have throughout the season.

Oakleaf (Orange Park)
Coach: Wes Champ, 2nd year.
2016-17: 11-9 in duals. 4th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 7th at Ridgeview Rumble, T-4th at Battle of the Border, 12th at Flagler Rotary, 9th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 6th at district, 19th at region, T-70th at states. 2016 — 6th at district, 17th at region, T-54th at states. 2015 — 3rd at 2A-District 3, 10th at 2A-Region 1, T-34th at 2A states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Cam’Ron Dove (sophomore, 106, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Ryan Rosano (senior, 113, district 3rd, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Brandean Bacolor (senior, 120, 1 match from regions); Ethan Gustilo (senior, 126, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Trenton Carroll (junior, 145, 1 match from regions); Isaiah Graham (senior, 160, 1 match from regions); Jason Mitchell (sophomore, 182, 0-2 at districts); Dexter Moore (junior, 195, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Od’Juan Whitfield (junior, 220, 1 match from regions).

Key addition: Jacob McKee (sophomore, 106, did not compete in 1A post-season, transferred from Clay).
Key losses (graduation): Donovan Gray (152, 0-2 at districts); Jesse Jennette (170, 1 match from regions); Eduardo Torres (285, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Knights have been one of the more active off-season teams. Eleven returning starters provide both depth and experience. A second year under a returning coach will bring some needed stability to program.
Program needs: Schedule needed upgrading a year ago and it was; this year, Knights will want the confidence their upgraded schedule will require and win the matches they should.
Matmen’s take: After two years of finishing at the top of the bottom half of districts, this should be the year that the Knights break through into the top half of the field. Oakleaf should get more than one wrestler out to states, with all the offseason work Knights have been doing.
* — records not included due to missing results

Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville)
Coach: Ricky Hicks, 4th year.
2016-17: 6-12 in duals. T-19th at Capital City Classic, 9th at Rob Bierbaum Invitational, 10th at Gateway Conference, 8th at 5 Star Invitational, 1st at Westside Duals.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 8th at district, T-23rd at region, T-70th at states. 2016 — 7th at district, 29th at region. 2015 — 6th at 2A-District 3, 13th at 2A-Region 1, T-67th at 2A states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Vincente Waugh (sophomore, 16-20 at 132, did not compete in post-season); Darius Wells (senior, 25-13 at 138, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Timothy Greathouse (3-15 at 145, did not compete in post-season); Caleb Zaccheo (senior, 10-6 at 152, 1 match from regions); Maurice Henderson (senior, 12-20 at 160, 0-2 at districts); Christopher Telusma (junior, 24-16 at 182, 1 match from regions); Gregory Williams (senior, 5-16 at 220, did not compete in post-season); Leo White (senior, 12-10 at 285, district 4th, 0-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Corey Parrish (145, 0-2 at districts); Dewayne Randall (145, did not compete in post-season); David Johnson (195, district 3rd, region 4th, 0-2 at states); William Morton (195, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Lee will return some solid depth in the uppers, which will help the Generals in a few of their events. February tournament win at Westside should be a boost of confidence going into upcoming season. Lee has been to state in three of the past four years.
Program needs: Some lower-weight wrestlers would definitely help the Generals, who went without a full lineup for the entirety of last season. Lee goes to Tallahassee for Cap City each year, but needs — as a 3A school — some more travel and much more off-season on its schedule.
Matmen’s take: The Generals are going to be competitive in a few weights, but without more lineup spots filled it will be difficult for Lee to break into the top half of either the Gateway or districts in January and February. Without off-season work, that task will only get harder.

Sandalwood (Jacksonville)
Coach: Casey Gibson, 5th year.
2016-17: 6-11 in duals. 5th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 10th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 12th at Ridgeview Rumble, 16th at Tournament of Champions, 2nd at Gateway Conference, 15th at Flagler Rotary, 22nd at Clay Rotary..
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 4th at district, 12th at region, T-58th at states. 2016 — 4th at district, 10th at region, T-45th at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 10th at region, T-25th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Leon Cruz (senior, 113, district 4th, 2-2 at regions); Nakeem Murphy (sophomore, 120, 0-2 at districts); Blake Friend (sophomore, 126, 0-2 at districts); Owen Murnin (sophomore, 132, 0-2 at districts); Lavaughn Brown (sophomore, 152, 1 match from regions); Dillon Morency (senior, 170, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Devin Smith (sophomore, 195, did not compete in post-season); Gustavo Martinez (sophomore, 220, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Cameron Bell (145, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Chandler Bell (160, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Cole Friend (182, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Miguel Velasquez (285, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Outstanding program support within the school and by the parents. Sandalwood isn’t afraid to travel to take lumps and get better, something other Duval County teams (in 3A and elsewhere) should emulate. Enthusiastic coaching set that works hard to build success.
Program needs: Saints will have to look to returning seniors for mat leadership. Offseason work would have helped young group continue to build on first-year successes.
Matmen’s take: Run of recent success will be very difficult for this group to emulate. Goals for this year will focus more on development and build toward a future return to the top of the heap in the Gateway.
* — records not included due to discrepancies between reported, Matmen records

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TurkeyNWrestling: 2A-District 2

Team synopsis: This district is evolving this year.

I don’t see the rest of the group finishing ahead of Lincoln or Columbia. Lincoln’s going to be a threat for the top pick in the Northwest team rankings after returning to the top of the 2A-Region 1 heap in 2016-17, despite several challengers.

It’s not often that a team can lose three state qualifiers and still defend their district title, but I can see the Trojans doing it.

And yet, Columbia had some scuffles last year, but seems to have gained a great deal from it. The Tigers never are far away from the highest competitive ranks, and this year could be a year where the group takes a step forward as a whole.

Picking 3-5 is a tougher challenge. I’m going to go with Leon for now, but I don’t know how comfortable I am with it, honestly. The Lions have more recent pedigree, but took some very heavy graduation losses, and those might prove incredibly difficult to overcome.

Gainesville has struggled more than have the Lions, but the Hurricanes have a bigger returning class, and we’ll have to see if the struggles of the past couple of seasons transmit into wins.

I would have probably tabbed Chiles third at the start, but the Timberwolves had a substantial graduation loss of its own, plus several upperweights that could have come back did not this year.

Projected finish: 1. Lincoln. 2. Columbia. 3. Leon. 4. Gainesville. 5. Chiles.

Chiles (Tallahassee)
Coach: James Marschka, 13th year.
2016-17: 18-6 in duals. 10th at Border Wars, 12th at Capital City Classic, 4th at Trojan Invitational, 18th at Flagler Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 2nd at district, 10th at region, T-52nd at states. 2016 — 3rd at district, 15th at region, T-34th at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 16th at region, T-47th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Ethan Dhanarajan (sophomore, 16-12 at 106, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Austin Hall (senior, 20-16 at 120, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Michael Hawkins (junior, 5-17 at 138/145, did not compete in post-season); Austin Nolan (senior, 33-16 at 145, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states).
Key losses (graduation): Logan Mellor (132, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states); Andrew Tychsen (138, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Miles Mercer (152, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Justin Lopeman (170, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Gavin Hoard (170, did not compete in post-season); Bobby Williams (220, district runnerup, 1 match from states).
Program strengths: Solid success in duals environment last year, so kids that are returning have familiarity with winning and what it takes to win. Experienced kids made solid gains last year and there were a couple of good first-year finds that cracked starting lineup.
Program needs: Filling weights last year was a small problem at a couple of lower weights; that problem could be somewhat bigger this year, particularly in the uppers. Off-season mat time was not ideal.
Matmen’s take: Timberwolves have substantial graduation losses to overcome; if they can fill lineup, they could be a threat to take third in district again this year.

Columbia (Lake City)
Coach: Peter Whittington, 2nd year.
2016-17: 7-10 in duals. 12th at Border Wars, 6th at Capital City Classic, 18th at Cradle Cancer, 24th at George Jenkins, 30th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 3rd at district, 12th at region, T-75th at states. 2016 — 4th at district, 12th at region, T-14th at states. 2015 — 3rd at district, 10th at region, 24th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Adrienne Britt (sophomore, 4-11 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Martin Lee (sophomore, 14-15 at 113, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Ian McGuigan (sophomore, 8-19 at 120, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Chace Curtis (senior, 39-6 at 126, district champ, region champ, 1 match from state medal); Alex McGuigan (sophomore, 3-13 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season); Matt Ross (junior, 17-16 at 132, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Daniel Mann (junior, 34-15 at 138, district champ, 1 match from states); Matthew Arango (junior, 4-13 at 145, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Matt Raulerson (senior, 9-7 at 145, did not compete in post-season); Mitchell Gregory (senior, 13-23 at 152, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Preston O’Quinn (sophomore, 2-7 at 160, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Zion James (senior, 22-15 at 160, did not compete in post-season); Chad Sapp (junior, 25-21 at 170, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); David Thompson (sophomore, 4-11 at 182, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): None.
Program strengths: Very experienced core of kids are back, which should make Tigers better in duals format this year. That said, team’s strength will still show up more in IBT events, where star power can help rack up points. Group has re-energized off-season efforts.
Program needs: Experienced bigs continue to be an issue in the lineup. Injuries were a problem a year ago, leading to several kids missing significant time.
Matmen’s take: I like the makeup of this group. I think Curtis can return, if not should return, in his final season (that doesn’t seem possible), to the top of the heap in 2A states. Could see a few Tigers get out, and that would put them in a good place in the region race.

Gainesville
Coach: Patrickk McDonald, 3rd year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 14th at Trojan Invitational, 35th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 4th at district, 22nd at region. 2016 — 5th at district, 17th at region, 17th at states. 2015 — 5th at district, 18th at region, T-67th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Nathan Fox (senior, 106, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Scotty Tacinelli (junior, 113, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Nicholas Hanson (sophomore, 120, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Dishant Rami (senior, 132, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Josh Cohn (sophomore, 138, 1 match from regions); Corey Ryan (senior, 160, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Justin Harbilas (senior, 170, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Bronson Carter (junior, 182, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Pierre Toney (senior, 195, did not compete in post-season); Donnie Wilburn (senior, 285, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Elijah Keselowsky (126, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); James Hamilton (126, did not compete in post-season); Christian Whitehead (152, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Lot of first-year kids were part of team that moved out of last in the district for first time since 2014. Graduation losses don’t hit very hard, decent amount of returners back for 2017-18. Schedule has improved in solid, positive directions for the upcoming year.
Program needs: Off-season mat time would have been very helpful for these younger guys. No state qualifiers in 2017, so a step backward in that regard.
Matmen’s take: Hurricanes might be able to hold fourth place, maybe take third, in the district with an influx of numbers to help shore up the middle of the lineup. If the group can find some leadership, they could begin rebuild process.
* — records not included due to missing results

Leon (Tallahassee)
Coach: Charles Ringel, 15th year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 4th at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 13th at Capital City Classic, 12th at Trojan Invitational, unknown team result from Syrupmaker Invitational (GA).
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 5th at district, 15th at region, T-13th at states. 2016 — 2nd at district, 7th at region, T-8th at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 6th at region, 12th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Ethan Eudy (sophomore, 145, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Jaquenez Madison (junior, 152, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Mason Judd (senior, 170, 1 match from regions); Hudson Holland (sophomore, 285, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Key addition: Tony Davis (junior, 152 for Leon two years ago, transferred from out-of-state).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Madison Melton (132, 1 match from regions, transferred to Godby); JT Grant (182, district champ, region champ, state runnerup); Henry Segura (195, district champ, region runnerup, 5th at states).
Program strengths: Returners have seen kids come through and enjoy success, so they have a pretty good idea of what’s required to succeed. Coaching longevity, and the program continuity that goes along with it, will be a benefit this year as the schedule becomes more and more difficult.
Program needs: With just one returning win in last year’s region tournament, last year’s program-needs take bears repeating — the less-experienced guys need to step up. Off-season work would have helped in that regard.
Matmen’s take: With a top-15 state finish less likely this season, the year will probably be focused more upon team growth. Some lowers are critical if Lions are to finish third in district.
* — records not listed due to missing results

Lincoln (Tallahassee)
Coach: Mike Crowder, 23rd year.
2016-17: 17-4 in duals. 1st at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 3rd at Capital City Classic, 6th at Ridgeview Rumble, 5th at Corey Hill Invitational, 2nd at Trojan Invitational.
Other post-season stats: 2017 — 1st at district, 1st at region, 11th at states. 2016 — 1st at district, 2nd at region, 12th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 1st at region, T-40th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Mark Munroe (junior, 32-14 at 106, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Hayden Buzick (sophomore, 9-10 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Ikeon Myles (junior, 24-12 at 113, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Michael Crowder (senior, 27-9 at 120, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal); Braxton Winder (junior, 11-13 at 132, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Elliott Crum (junior, 30-21 at 138, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Anderson Stennett (senior, 16-23 at 145, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Justin Grant (senior, 51-1 at 160, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states); Selah Craft (junior, 15-7 at 160/170, did not compete in post-season); Jared Newhall (senior, 38-14 at 170, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Gus Altenburg (senior, 15-20 at 182, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Tanner Washburn (sophomore, 19-22 at 195, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Jonquille Rivers (junior, 9-8 at 285, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Tyree Young (126, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Jeremy Burke (152, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Josh Martin (220, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states); Thomas Moss (285, district champ, region runnerup, 0-2 at states).
Program strengths: Tremendous amount of returning experience, including three state qualifiers and two more that were just a match away from qualifying. Strong off-season prep kept Lincoln sharp this spring and summer. Crowder is the dean of Northwest coaches and a Hall of Fame inductee this coming January.
Program needs: Well…they’ll need a 220, I imagine. Possibly. Replacing three state qualifiers is always difficult. Not a huge number of needs for this team.
Matmen’s take: Lincoln’s already got seven consecutive district titles, and I fully expect they’ve got enough back to pick up an eighth straight win. As of now, I would tab the Trojans to repeat as region champions as well.

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TurkeyNWrestling: 1A-District 1

Team synopsis: 1A-District 1 just might be the toughest task from a prognosticator’s standpoint.

The smart money in picking teams says it’s an impossible task to replace five district champs from last year, three of them state medalists and a fourth who was a state finalist two years ago.

And when one of those medalists goes back to his home team, with that team already boasting a lot of returners, the smart money says that’s the favorite. So that’s why I’m looking — nervously, but looking — to tab Marianna as the early favorite for district honors.

The Bulldogs already had a solid, if unspectactular, group returning that projected some decent dual results, a positive in this first year with a state dual series. But the Maddox brothers are returning to the Marianna district this year after spending a year at Arnold in 2016-17, and that should neatly fit a couple of holes in the uppers that proved problematic for MHS last year.

Marianna is going to be pushed, though. Bozeman was a surprise runnerup finisher last year, and if Marianna falters in any way, don’t be surprised if the Bucks push to the top. Stunningly, despite losing five district champs, Arnold still returns two 1A-District 1 titlists and could be a tough out for anyone, with solid IBT presence this season.

I think Bay, last year’s most improved team overall in the district, has just a bit more experienced talent than Wewahitchka. Wewa lost two state qualifiers, and they’ll be tough to replace. Bay did lose six starters, but did pick up a key transfer that will help.

South Walton, with the Pickren family returning to the district and the add-on of one of north Florida’s most talented young coaches, will be a force in IBTs; if they can ever fill more weights, watch out. That puts them ahead of Mosley (the fullest team among the bottom half) and North Bay Haven, with the combination of numbers and experience putting Rutherford and Rocky Bayou Christian into tough spots.

Projected finish: 1. Marianna. 2. Bozeman. 3. Arnold. 4. Bay. 5. Wewahitchka. 6. South Walton. 7. Mosley. 8. North Bay Haven. 9. Rutherford. 10. Rocky Bayou Christian.

Arnold (Panama City Beach)
Coach: Zane Turnipseed, 1st year as HC.
2016-17: 22-10 in duals. 8th at Border Wars, 7th at Capital City Classic, 3rd at Trojan Invitational, 6th at Clay Rotary, T-60th at girls’ state meet.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 1st at district, 4th at region, 5th at states. 2016 — 1st at district, 2nd at region, 3rd at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 2nd at region, 5th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Tanner Brockman (junior, 106, did not compete in post-season); Griffin Hebert (junior, 113, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Justin Ivy (sophomore, 120, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Bradley Chapman (junior, 138/145, did not compete in post-season); Drew St. Amant (senior, 152, district champ, region champ, 5th at states); Jared Froehlich (senior, 182, district 4th, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Julia Merrill (106, 2-2 at girls’ state, 1 match from regions); Ethan Pickren (126, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal, transferred to South Walton); William Pickren (132, district champ, region champ, state runnerup); Richie McClanahan (138, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states); John Maddox (160, 1 match from regions, transferred to Marianna); Cole Maddox (170, district champ, region champ, state runnerup, transferred to Marianna); Elliot Woodham (285, district champ, 0-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Marlins still return two district champs, so IBTs will be events where they can shine a bit more. Lighter weights still pretty intact and middles should be solid. Arnold wrestles a strong schedule that will prep kids for state run.
Program needs: Replacing five district champions will be a major challenge. Could be some holes in upper weights without replacements coming in.
Matmen’s take: The run of top-five state finishes likely comes to a close this year, but Arnold can still be a factor in the state scene. Marlins can still be in the mix to defend district title, but will need depth positions from last year and infusions of new blood for that to happen most effectively.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

Bay (Panama City)
Coach: Cliff Gore, 11th year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 10th at Trojan Invitational, 6th at Gator Brawl, T-52nd at girls’ state meet.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 4th at district, T-11th at region, T-72nd at states. 2016 — 6th at district, 26th at region. 2015 — 7th at district, 28th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Trophie Long (junior, 113, 1-2 at girls’ state, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Aaron Curry (senior, 132, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Tim Messick (senior, 138, 0-2 at districts); Kyle Roper (sophomore, 152, 1 match from regions); Davis Whitfield (senior, 160, 0-2 at districts); Andrew Luzny (senior, 182, district runnerup, 1 match from states).
Key addition: Brandon Jackson (junior, 220, district runnerup, 1 match from states, transferred from Bay).
Key losses (graduation): Torrie Adams (113/120, 2-2 at girls’ state, did not compete in FHSAA post-season); Gabe Meyer (120, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Damien Stayer (126, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Tytianna Hagens (138, 0-2 at girls’ state, did not compete in FHSAA post-season); Danterius Ghant (195, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Jonatan Arellano (195/220, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Program had first appearance at states since 2014 last year, an important step in its development. Middle weights are experienced, which should help the Tornadoes this year. Bay’s schedule was upgraded some last year, and I think that helped the Tornadoes.
Program needs: Graduation losses are fairly substantial, may be difficult to overcome. The bookend weights will be a focus, as there’ll be some inexperience there.
Matmen’s take: Bay should be a mid-pack team in the district, but exactly where is tricky to predict. I thought the Tornadoes would struggle more than they did last year, which is to their credit. Like Arnold, going to need some new talent come in for best chance of success.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

Bozeman (Panama City)
Coach: Jared Brookman, 3rd year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 6th at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 16th at Battle on the Border, 10th at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 2nd at district, 21st at region. 2016 — 4th at district, 19th at region. 2015 — 8th at district, T-32nd at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Wylie DeBarr (8th grade, 113, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Douglas Hanson (senior, 120, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Brian Zerr (junior, 126, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Triston Tiller (senior, 138, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Trey Elmore (junior, 145/152, did not compete in post-season); Caleb Ward (junior, 170, did not compete in post-season); Joey DeLaRosa (senior, 285, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions).

Key addition: Hunter Kruger (junior, district 4th in 2016, 0-2 at regions, did not wrestle last year).
Key losses (graduation): Michael Stout (160, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Caleb Hale (170, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Lower weights should be decent and there’s some returning experience in the middle. Bucks are willing to travel a bit to find competition, which helps them in the post-season. Bozeman brought in and hosted a camp last month, showing greater commitment to off-season activity.
Program needs: Bucks haven’t had a state qualifier since 2014; a qualifier to Kissimmee would be a big step for program. Could use some more upper weights to finish a full season this year.
Matmen’s take: With short-handed team in 2017, Bozeman shocked everybody by taking second. The Bucks will be in the mix again in 2018, but folks are likelier to see them as contenders this time around.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

Marianna
Coach: Todd Larson, 2nd year.
2016-17: 11-15 in duals. 21st at Border Wars, 16th at Capital City Classic, 13th at Trojan Invitational, 9th at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 5th at district, T-16th at region, T-43rd at states. 2016 — 2nd at district, 6th at region, T-36th at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 17th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Neal Smith (junior, 17-27 at 113, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Damone Rolle (sophomore, 5-10 at 132, did not compete in post-season); Ethan Ellis (senior, 38-14 at 138, 1 match from states); Dee Dubose (sophomore, 3-16 at 152/160, did not compete in post-season); Dillon Melvin (senior, 10-17 at 170, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Jonah Mercer (junior, 5-20 at 182, 1 match from regions); Corey Davis (sophomore, 4-11 at 182, did not compete in post-season); Jason Rudd (sophomore, 3-8 at 285, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Key additions: John Maddox (sophomore, 160, 1 match from regions, transferred from Arnold); Cole Maddox (senior, 170, district champ, region champ, state runnerup, transferred from Arnold).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Isaac Ellis (145, 1 match from regions); Max Martinez (152, district runnerup, region 3rd, 6th at states); Gunner Nebel (160, district 4th, 0-2 at regions, transferred to South Walton); Nick English (195, moved midseason, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Having a state runnerup in the room will definitely make Bulldogs a stronger team. Several returners up and down the lineup will provide experience. Strong schedule preps Marianna for post-season effectiveness.
Program needs: Some lower-weight kids with experience coming in would just about do everything to make the Bulldogs the favorite here. Uppers struggled last year and will have to take a step forward, but they’ve got role models to follow.
Matmen’s take: Maddox return will benefit the Bulldogs substantially, perhaps enough to take Marianna to a district title, something it hasn’t won for at least four seasons.

Mosley (Lynn Haven)
Coach: John Winkler, 2nd year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 23rd at Border Wars, 15th at Capital City Classic, 5th at Tate Invitational, T-7th at Battle on the Border, 11th at Trojan Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 8th at district, T-18th at region. 2016 — 3rd at district, T-17th at region. 2015 — 8th at 2A-District 1, 27th at 2A-Region 1.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Austin Yon (junior, 113/120, did not compete in post-season); Gavin Krisko (senior, 120/126, did not compete in post-season); Lonnie Bell (junior, 138, 0-2 at districts); Garrison Kovacs (junior, 152, did not compete in post-season); Jarred Pitts (senior, 160, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Nick O’Brien (junior, 195, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Shane Ferry (132, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Caleb Schultz (145, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Dalton Childs (170/182, did not compete in post-season); Brandon Jackson (junior, 220, district runnerup, 1 match from states, transferred to Bay).
Program strengths: Team was expected to have a lot of kids back that didn’t appear in Dolphin lineup, and yet Mosley achieved some decent results. Schedule was definitely challenging in 2016-17, and that’s always a benefit for any team. Upper weights — where they’re filled — should be a good source for points for the Dolphins.
Program needs: Dolphins haven’t had a state qualifier in four seasons, and that would be an important step in the program. A lot of in-season starters didn’t compete in post-season, a full season’s consistent presence this year will result in better post-season performance.
Matmen’s take: Dolphins will have a couple of good individual efforts, but from a team standpoint, expectations could see some adjustment.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

North Bay Haven (Panama City)
Coach: Brandon Collins, 4th year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals (there were at least 45). 27th at Ed Cressel Classic (VA), 11th at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 9th at district, 29th at region, T-72nd at states. 2016 — 9th at district, T-30th at region. 2015 — 6th at district, 26th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Landon Ladtkow (freshman, 106, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Lucas Biddle (7th grade, 106/113, did not compete in post-season); Joe Callahan (7th grade, 106/113, did not compete in post-season); Connor Denison (7th grade, 160/170, did not compete in post-season); Hunter Malone (freshman, 160/170, did not compete in post-season); Aidan Campbell (senior, 170, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Garrett Hester (senior, 195, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states).
Key losses (graduation): Dagon Womack (152, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Dillon Fuder (160, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Inexperienced kids need mat time, and the Buccaneers got lots of it in 2016-17. Hester’s qualification for states was the first in school history. NBH was willing to travel to lots of places to see competition.
Program needs: Still many weights to fill in the lineup, including lowers (toward the middle) and uppers. A year ago, Buccaneers had three 106s and then (most of the time) no one until 145.
Matmen’s take: Numbers continue to rise, but until there’s nearly all the weights full and off-season work for at least some of the Buccaneers, getting past middle of the pack is going to be tough to do.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

Rocky Bayou Christian
Coach: Kevin Walsh, 2nd year.
2015-16: Unknown in duals. T-23rd at Capital City Classic, 16th at Trojan Invitational, 17th at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 10th at district. 2016 — No program. 2015 — 9th at district, 34th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Elijah Zwalve (freshman, 106, 1 match from regions); Wyatt Kirkpatrick (sophomore, 145, 0-2 at districts); Elisha Daughtry (senior, 160, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses: None.
Program strengths: Program survived first year of its reboot with a partial schedule, added more dates this year. Not losing any kids with significant mat time, even the ones with less than 15 matches, will help. Schedule was surprisingly competitive for a rebooted program.
Program needs: More kids out; other than at one event, Rocky Bayou had just one wrestler below 145 this past season. Schedule was competitive but needed more dates last year; this has been improved this year.
Matmen’s take: Knights aren’t quite up to task of getting a wrestler to states or fielding a team in the top half of district, but with a few more weights filled should get closer to both.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

Rutherford (Panama City)
Coach: Miles Godwin, 2nd year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 12th at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 6th at district, T-23rd at region, T-72nd at states. 2016 — 7th at district, 23rd at region, T-63rd at states. 2015 — 5th at district, 27th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Chase Dubroca (sophomore, 106, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); D’vante Sims (junior, 138, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Keivontie Logan (junior, 145, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Caleb Dutton (sophomore, 160/170, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Matt Brown (152, did not compete in post-season); Yakeif Duncan (182, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states).
Program strengths: Rams got a lot of duals in last year, which helps inexperienced group get on the mat. Juniors Sims and Logan should be leaders in the middle of the lineup. Young coaching staff seemed to find its way through initial season a year ago.
Program needs: Several kids saw some mat time, but only the six Rams listed above got 15+ matches with certainty; keeping kids in the lineup is a must in 2017-18. Rutherford also needs more in-season tournaments on its schedule.
Matmen’s take: With no returners that reached Saturday at regions coming back, this season could be a struggle, but Rams pulled enough together last year to field mostly-full team from 138 up.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

South Walton (Santa Rosa Beach)
Coach: Carey Nick, 12th year.
2016-17: 1-18 in duals. 24th at Border Wars, T-39th at Las Vegas Holiday Classic, 9th at Tate Invitational, 14th at Gator Brawl, 37th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 7th at district, 26th at region, T-72nd at states. 2016 — 8th at district, 24th at region. 2015 — 3rd at district, 5th at region, T-17th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Sophie Thaxton (sophomore, 106, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Seth Weinthal (junior, 132, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Joseph Gajewski (junior, 138, 1 match from regions); Eldrich Trinidad (junior, 195, district 3rd, did not compete at regions).
Key additions: Ethan Pickren (junior, 126, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal, transferred from Arnold); Gunner Nebel (senior, 23-21 at 160, district 4th, 0-2 at regions, transferred from Marianna).
Key losses (graduation): Connor Metcalf (145, district 4th, 1 match from states).
Program strengths: Coaching staff, already the longest-tenured in the district, augmented with big pickup of 2016-17 Niceville HC Travis Laxton as assistant. By himself, Pickren not the biggest transfer in district, but will certainly augment Seahawks. Schedule always a strong one at South Walton.
Program needs: More kids in the lineup; the core of kids back is a solid one, but few weights will be filled.
Matmen’s take: Too soon to tell if South Walton will return to where it was in 2014-15 season, but pieces starting to fall in place to be there by no later than next year, at least; it all turns on getting kids out.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

Wewahitchka
Coach: Tracy Malcolm, 9th year.
2016-17: 14-11 in duals. 22nd at Border Wars, 66th at Las Vegas Holiday Classic, 4th at Tate Invitational, 15th at Trojan Invitational, 8th at Gator Brawl, 31st at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 3rd at district, 8th at region, 22nd at states. 2016 — 5th at district, 11th at region, T-63rd at states. 2015 — 4th at district, T-22nd at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Jaden Moseley (sophomore, 30-22 at 106, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Dylan Jacobs (junior, 23-26 at 126, 1-2 at regions); Malachi Davenport (senior, 27-23 at 182, district 3rd, region 4th, 0-2 at states).
Key addition: Jonathan Harvey (junior, 16-13 at 113 in 2015-16, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions, did not wrestle last year).
Key losses (graduation): Burley Parker (152, district 3rd, region runnerup, 3rd at states); Jackson Vines (160, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states).
Program strengths: Lowers took lumps a year ago, but all are back with a year’s more experience. Schedule is varied and clearly prepped Gators for post-season a year ago. Excellent mix of calm and enthusiasm in the coaching staff.
Program needs: Graduation losses in the middle of the lineup will hurt for Gators. Wewa needs to find middles and uppers — and keep them in the lineup through season’s end this time round.
Matmen’s take: The Gators were probably the most fun team to watch at regions a year ago, thanks to an intense fan base and also getting three kids out. That might be tough to duplicate, but team may have a chance to be just as solid despite the graduation losses.

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TurkeyNWrestling: 1A-District 5 & NE Independents

Team synopsis: District 1A-5 got contracted down to five teams, but as far as the race is concerned, it’s the same story in 2017-18.

I expect it’ll be Crystal River vs. Palatka for the team title. That’s no surprise. This year, though, it could depend on which team is able to reload fastest.

Crystal River lost two state qualifiers from last year’s team, returning one, while Palatka returns two state qualifiers. Palatka had a smaller graduation class leave it in May of this year, but Crystal River had a fuller team all of last year.

Recent tradition favors Crystal River, but I will not be surprised in the slightest if the Panthers find a way to get on top — particularly if they can get as many kids in the lineup as early as possible.

The other three teams in the district all suffered from inability to fill even half of the weight classes on a consistent basis. Eastside was a bit of surprise to me with its district showing last year, after having only a handful of dates in which the Rams competed. Interlachen has quality where it has weights filled, but continued last year to have problems filling more than five weights.

We’ve included the breakout for independent Keystone Heights here with the 1A-5s. It seems to be a natural home for the Indians, but we’ll see how the future unfolds. KHHS is competing as an independent at least for this year; hopefully, in the next seasons, they’ll be part of the FHSAA post-season series.

Projected finish: 1. Crystal River. 2. Palatka. 3. Eastside. 4. Leesburg. 5. Interlachen.

Crystal River
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 1st at district, 8th at region, T-51st at states. 2016 — 1st at district, 5th at region, 20th at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 4th at region, T-36th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters): Sebastian Dwyer (sophomore, 106, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Roderick Bruce (junior, 120, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Hudson Silverstone (sophomore, 126, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Ashton Bosley (sophomore, 138, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Collin Miller (junior, 160, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Tyler Godfrey (junior, 170, district champ, 1-2 at regions); Brian Henderson (junior, 220, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Chase Bunts (113, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Josh Thonen (132, district champ, 0-2 at regions); CJ Lawson (152, district runnerup, did not compete at regions); Carlos Wilson (182, district champ, 1 match from states); Jason Graham (285, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states).
Matmen’s take: Big senior class to replace for CRHS; there may be enough back in order to defend the district title, but it is going to be a much-taller order.

Eastside (Gainesville)
Coach: Shaheed Bakr, 1st year as HC.
2016-17: 1-8 in duals. No in-season IBTs.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 4th at district, 28th at region. 2016 — 6th at district, T-18th at region. 2015 — 4th at district, 24th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Derrick Walcott (senior, 2-10 at 126, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Brent Clark (sophomore, 2-4 at 138, 1 match from regions); Dylan Shea (sophomore, 0-6 at 145, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); O’meun Johnson (senior, 1-8 at 182, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Shekinah Grant (120, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Chacity Battles (132, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Shaun Adams (152, district champ, 0-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Rams do have a couple of returners back that have been through a couple of seasons’ worth of competition, so they have some leadership in the cupboard. Program had decent number of kids come through and get varsity time.
Program needs: More scheduled dates; having more than half the season as an open date doesn’t help build competitive program. Having bookend wrestlers, at both ends of the lineup, would make for a better duals experience.
Matmen’s take: Last year’s team had a number of wrestlers get at least some mat time, but nobody had more than a dozen matches. If that changes, the Rams will get better this year, even if they put up a worse showing at districts.

Interlachen
Coach: Craig Borgus, 7th year.
2016-17: 2-27 in duals. 12th at Ed Kilpatrick Classic.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 7th at district, T-25th at region. 2016 — 5th at district, 14th at region, T-47th at states. 2015 — 8th at district, 25th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Cade Mason (senior, 21-18 at 138, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Corey Adkins (senior, 27-6 at 195, district runnerup, did not compete at regions).

Key addition: Dale Green (senior, 145, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions, transferred from Palatka).

Key losses (graduation): Brennan Wykoff (170/182, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Where weights have been filled, the results generated have been solid, which goes to the strength of the coaching staff. Team has shown a willingness to travel in previous years, to go find good competition.
Program needs: As we’ve been saying since 2014, Interlachen needs kids in the lineup, and this year is no different. All of the other needs flow from that.
Matmen’s take: If the Rams can field even half of a team, they’ve got a shot at a top-four district showing, but with just three kids returning, that will be difficult. We should see decent IBT individual efforts throughout the season.

Leesburg
Post-season stats: 2017 — 4th at district, 23rd at region. 2016 — First-year program in 2016-17.
Individual returners (post-season starters): Keyshaun Taylor (sophomore, 106, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Navon Lawerence (sophomore, 145, district champ, 2-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): None.
Matmen’s take: Leesburg’s two titles at district level proved enough for team to finish fourth; if they can find some more kids, that would benefit the program as a whole.

Palatka
Coach: Josh White, 7th year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 31st at Flagler Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 2nd at district, 14th at region, T-72nd at states. 2016 — 2nd at district, T-18th at region. 2015 — 5th at district, 16th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Drevon Wallace (sophomore, 106, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Trevor Davis (sophomore, 113, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Bryan Smith (senior, 195, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Ira Dixon (senior, 220, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Dale Green (145, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions, transferred to Interlachen); Jamar Danzler (160, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Jason Gullett (170, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Taking two wrestlers to states in March was massive for the program. Middles should be a good leadership point and the bookend weights should be highlights. Palatka will wrestle a very solid schedule in order to get good competition.
Program needs: If Panthers can find a few more uppers to go with Smith and Dixon, this won’t be as much of a critical need. Schedule could use at least one more IBT in it.
Matmen’s take: Palatka should close, substantially even, the gap between it and Crystal River this season, if not overtake the gap.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

Independent: Keystone Heights
Coach: Rich Marshall, 1st year at school as HC.
2016-17: First-year program in 2017-18.
Program strengths: Experienced and well-traveled coaching staff should be very beneficial for fledgling program. Kids at Keystone Heights have already been exposed to the sport through offseason freestyle and Greco-Roman on-campus programs.
Program needs: More mat time against local opponents will be key.
Matmen’s take: Indians should fare best among three first-year programs in north Florida, as they have had a little bit of exposure to freestyle and Greco, but it may not be until Keystone Heights adds the Florida post-season dates before we see just how well they’ll hold up.

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TurkeyNWrestling: 1A-District 3

Team synopsis: Each of the past two seasons, it’s been Clay that has been the undisputed best small public school wrestling program in Florida. With back-to-back runnerup finishes at states in 2016 and 2017, the proof is there.

Locally, this is not news, and arguably it’s been for much longer than the past two seasons.

The Blue Devils will be going for a 19th consecutive district title in February, and they should get there, even after losing four state medalists either to graduation or transfer. Having four state qualifiers, three of them former medalists, is a pretty good boost to start from, and a deep lineup made deeper by three additional transfers — two of them former state medalists themselves — should make Clay invincible in 1A-District 3.

I foresee a good fight for the second spot, which will matter most for FHSAA district duals, and at districts itself.

Based on who’s got who coming back, I’m tabbing West Nassau as the favorite to win County and move into second this year. The Warriors have two former state qualifiers back, a huge group back from a year ago, and a couple of kids that didn’t wrestle for WNHS last year that are back.

If the Warriors falter, Yulee and Baker County might be right there to pick up the slack. The Hornets still return several solid kids, even after graduation, transfers and kids not coming back all took their separate hits. Several Yulee wrestlers, who don’t appear in this preview but saw decent time last year, will have to pick up the slack. Baker County continues to hum along with a good group back this year as well, although they’re going to need some bigs to move into the top three of this district.

Westside took a graduation hit, with their strong middles moving on, but the Wolverines have enough back to certainly finish no lower than fifth. They’ll challenge Baker, too, for fourth. I’ll be curious to see how Bishop Snyder — which had a lot of new kids last year — and Year 2 of a new coaching administration at Fernandina Beach shake out. Raines has a few uppers returning, but without numbers, will struggle as a team.

Projected finish: 1. Clay. 2. West Nassau. 3. Yulee. 4. Baker County. 5. Westside. 6. Bishop Snyder. 7. Fernandina Beach. 8. Raines.

Baker County (Glen St. Mary)
Coach: Hank Farmer, 4th year.
2016-17: 12-8 in duals. 5th at 5 Star Invitational, 3rd at Westside Duals, T-60th at Girls’ State meet.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 5th at district, 22nd at region, T-72nd at states. 2016 — 4th at district, T-17th at region. 2015 — 3rd at district, 16th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Brianna Thornton (sophomore, 5-14 at 106, 1 match from regions); Cole Cushman (senior, 15-2 at 106, did not compete in post-season); David Jackson (sophomore, 10-17 at 113, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); James Knobb (sophomore, 18-4 at 120, did not compete in post-season); Jordan Johnson (senior, 31-6 at 126, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Devon Cole (senior, 16-12 at 138, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Michael Donnelly (sophomore, 3-14 at 145, 0-2 at districts); James Barnett (senior, 24-13 at 170, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Andrew Rosepiler (junior, 5-15 at 182, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Josh Ossmann (junior, 16-18 at 195, district 4th, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): John Timmons (132, district runnerup, did not compete at regions); Jestin Canterbury (285, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Solid group of experienced kids set to return for Wildcats. Getting a wrestler to states for first time since 2014 a plus for program as a whole. Lowers should be a strength of the lineup.
Program needs: Wildcats might be a little light in the upper weights, between 2017 missing weights and graduation. Schedule needs some upgrading to become a stronger team threat.
Matmen’s take: BCHS keeps swimming along from year to year, showing a little bit more promise each year; schedule has to get stronger for Wildcats to escape a middle-pack district finish.

Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville)
Coach: Jeremy Mosley, 4th year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 14th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 13th at Battle of the Border, 11th at 5 Star Invitational, 40th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 6th at district, T-27th at region. 2016 — 7th at district, 25th at region. 2015 — 6th at district, T-12th at region, T-59th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Elijah Bishop (junior, 106, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Jeffrey Prosser (sophomore, 113, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); JP Villanueva (junior, 120, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); James Baker (sophomore, 132, 1 match from regions); Pedro Velez (sophomore, 138, did not compete in post-season); John Bokros (junior, 145, 1 match from regions); Thomas Graden (junior, 152, 1 match from regions); Mark Morante (junior, 220, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): Noah Franco (126, 0-2 at districts); Brenden Bizier (138, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Program strengths: All of this year’s junior returners that started post-season last year have two years of starting experience in lineup. Cardinals have solid coaching staff in place. Schedule is solid, competitive but not too overwhelming for more-inexperienced kids.
Program needs: Cardinals need to find more bigs to fully fill out lineup. With no returners that have seen the second day of regions, hopefully the added experience helps, but more off-season work is needed.
Matmen’s take: With nine starters back, it’s time for Cardinals — who haven’t been to states since 2015 — to start pushing toward more success.
* — records not included due to partial missing results

Clay (Green Cove Springs)
Coach: Jim Reape, 25th year.
2016-17: 21-5 in duals. 1st at Ridgeview Rumble, 12th at Knockout Christmas Classic, 1st at 1A Somerset Scuffle, 2nd at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 1st at district, 1st at region, state runnerup. 2016 — 1st at district, 1st at region, state runnerup. 2015 — 1st at 1A-District 5, 3rd at 1A-Region 2, 9th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Justin Byler (junior, 6-6 at 113, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Peyton Hughes (junior, 35-6 at 126, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states); Dylan Fabiani (senior, 30-17 at 126, district champ, region 3rd, 1 match from state medal); Gabe Peddichord (senior, 126, did not compete in post-season); Dylan Taylor (junior, 10-5 at 152, district champ, 1 match from states); Connor Green (senior, 1-1 at 152 before season-ending injury, 2016 district champ, region 3rd, 6th at states); Garrett Weseman (senior, 12-15 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Isiah Clifford (sophomore, 9-18 at 170/182, did not compete in post-season); Carson Yost (senior, 18-13 at 170/182, did not compete in post-season); Kurt Jackson (senior, 50-4 at 220, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states); Joe Grelli (sophomore, 13-7 at 220, did not compete in post-season); Ryan Rivers (senior, 21-11 at 285, district runnerup, 1 match from states).
Key additions: Stevie Chopek (sophomore, 43-4 at 113, district champ, region 3rd, state runnerup, transferred from Yulee); Daniel Porter (senior, 43-15 at 113, 1A-District 4 runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states, transferred from University Christian); Grant Stanish (junior, 30-15 at 138, 1-2 at regions, transferred from Yulee).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Louie Gagliardo (junior, 106, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states, transferred to Fleming Island); Chris Merring (120, district champ, region champ, state runnerup); Cody Taylor (138, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Keath Sawdo (145, district champ, region champ, state runnerup); Kaleb Collins (195, district champ, region 3rd, 3rd at states).
Program strengths: Even before transfers in, Blue Devils have four returning state qualifiers (three of those medalists). Coaching staff is as strong as it gets. Strong tradition, infrastructure, program treats sport as year-round, and it shows.
Program needs: Senior class that graduated were vocal leaders, so finding leadership on the mat will be a priority. There were a couple of weights where Blue Devils could be hurt last year; getting those shored up probably has been done already, but did need to be done.
Matmen’s take: Not sure how it can be possible for a team to lose four state medalists, two of those finalists, and perhaps enter the year as strong as it left the previous, but Clay’s going to show us if it’s possible.

Fernandina Beach
Coach: Mike Emanuel, 2nd year.
2016-17: 5-22 in duals. T-13th at Battle on the Border, 10th at 5 Star Invitational, 7th at Westside Duals.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 8th at district, 25th at region, T-72nd at states. 2016 — 8th at district, 28th at region. 2015 — 5th at district, 24th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Camden Smith (sophomore, 9-27 at 120, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Jeremiah Giedrys (sophomore, 8-25 at 126, 1 match from regions); Nathan Manning (junior, 16-8 at 182, did not compete in post-season); Uriah Giedrys (junior, 15-10 at 195, did not compete in post-season); Robbie Elefterion (junior, 9-12 at 220, 1 match from regions); Justin Sabia (senior, 9-14 at 220/285, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Corbin Snyder (145, did not compete in post-season); Joseph Helm (160, district runnerup, region 3rd, 0-2 at states).
Program strengths: Pirates did send a wrestler to states for first time since 2014, so that’s a plus for the program. Fernandina made several upgrades to schedule last year, getting starters on the mat more often. Second year of coaching program should start to develop team identity.
Program needs: More weights will need to be filled — the middles appear to be an area with little experience back. Off-season wrestling needed to be more of a priority.
Matmen’s take: Pirates are still going to have their struggles, what with just one wrestler back that saw the region tournament last year — and had a quick Friday at that. But they can learn and grow together, will only lose one senior returning starter.

Raines (Jacksonville)
Coach: Brian Gilbert, 10th year.
2016-17: 3-17 in duals. 5th at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 22nd at Capital City Classic, ??? at 1A Somerset Scuffle, 9th at Gateway Conference, 7th at 5 Star Invitational, T-32nd at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 7th at district, T-16th at region, T-56th at states. 2016 — 5th at district, 10th at region, T-34th at states. 2015 — 7th at district, 21st at region, T-70th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Alonzo Davis (senior, 35-16 at 152, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Jevonte Hagan (senior, 21-24 at 220, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Jamon Goodwine (sophomore, 24-14 at 285, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions).
Key losses: Jaquan English (senior, district runnerup at 132, region 4th, 1-2 at states, transferred to Fleming Island).
Program strengths: Schedule is among the best among Duval public teams and among the best of the smaller 1A programs. Coaching staff is among the very best around.
Program needs: Bodies in lower weights. I’ve said often that kids who wrestle at Raines are going to be successful, but my words to God’s ears haven’t always been heeded. Transfer loss will hurt from a team-finish standpoint at IBTs.
Matmen’s take: Raines will finish higher if they can get more kids out and keep them eligible. They’ll have some presence in IBTs because of the bigs, but without more kids in the lineup, lots of events in which the Vikings compete will be tough as far as team finishes go.

West Nassau (Callahan)
Coach: Fred Avery, 4th year.
2016-17: 12-11 in duals. 12th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, T-16th at Battle of the Border, 9th at 5 Star Invitational, 20th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 4th at district, T-18th at region, T-56th at states. 2016 — 3rd at district, 12th at region, T-47th at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 9th at region, 25th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Brendan Ferenchik (sophomore, 8-13 at 113, 1 match from regions); Harley Bass (sophomore, 2-19 at 120, 1 match from regions); Bradly Kraai (junior, 23-17 at 126, 1 match from regions); Bradley Hulett (sophomore, 12-16 at 132, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Justin Curry (junior, 3-12 at 138, did not compete in post-season); William Tharpe (senior, 41-9 at 145, district runnerup, region 3rd, 1 match from state medal); Zachary Boston (sophomore, 5-17 at 152, 1 match from regions); Breyer Wood (sophomore, 19-15 at 160, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Mark Hall (sophomore, 8-16 at 170, did not compete in post-season)Daniel Boylan (senior, 13-13 at 195, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Tre’Von Gray (senior, 6-9 at 285, 1 match from regions).
Key additions: Jake Blount (senior, 2015 and 2016 state qualifier for West Nassau, did not wrestle last year); Levi Mumford (senior, 14-10 in 2015-16, 1 match from regions, did not wrestle last year); Requan Works (sophomore, 20-16 at 132, did not compete in 2A post-season, transferred from Ridgeview).
Key losses (graduation): Bryce Burnsed (182, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Blake Hodges (220, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Very young team in 2016-17 brings back a massive amount of returners. Schedule has slowly gotten better and better as program has taken shape. Leadership from the seniors has shown up in off-season work.
Program needs: Young lower weights took a lot of lumps last year, will need to be seen if those lumps become battle scars this year. Upper weights took some graduation hits. Deep football run may be problematic to getting started on mats.
Matmen’s take: Do not be surprised if the Warriors take the county title this year, but I thought they might a year ago, when some talented kids didn’t come back as planned. A couple of them are back this year. Team will be among the group of those I’ll be watching closely this season.

Westside (Jacksonville)
Coach: Christopher McNealy, 5th year.
2016-17: 12-5 in duals. 6th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 8th at Ridgeview Rumble, 3rd at Gateway Conference, 4th at 5 Star Invitational, 2nd at Westside Duals.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 3rd at district, T-11th at region, T-51st at states. 2016 — 6th at district, 16th at region, 72nd at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, T-12th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Demarcus Wilson (junior, 13-10 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Braxton Henry (sophomore, 3-13 at 120, did not compete in post-season); Angelo Philpot (sophomore, 26-18 at 132, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Matthew Gathright (senior, 8-11 at 160, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); John Jones (senior, 32-10 at 170, district champ, 1 match from states); Calvin Altman (senior, 30-11 at 182, 1 match from states); Jakius Hunt (junior, 14-24 at 195, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): Jacob Boyd (145, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Delmontae Davis (152, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Tariq Hookfin (285, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal).
Program strengths: Solid number of returners back from a team that had best finishes at biggest meets last year. Capable coaching presence has helped mold good team concept.
Program needs: Graduation losses will be difficult for this team to overcome. New leadership will be needed quickly. Wolverines could use some travel out of area to get exposure to other styles.
Matmen’s take: Wolverines might finish in the top half of district and challenge for Gateway once again if they can sort out some middles, find a couple of bigs at the top, and get second-tier kids to make a push.

Yulee
Coach: Brandon Crowder, 10th year.
2016-17: 22-1 in duals. 3rd at Seminole Wrestling Classic, T-4th at Battle on the Border, 7th at North Metro (GA) Tournament, 3rd at 5 Star Invitational, 21st at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 2nd at district, 6th at region, 13th at states. 2016 — 2nd at district, T-14th at region, T-42nd at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 7th at region, T-59th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Kyle Davis (sophomore, 34-11 at 106, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Bryce Bees (sophomore, 11-6 at 106/113, did not compete in post-season); Tyler Berrier (senior, 27-18 at 145, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Gunner Harrison (junior, 7-20 at 170, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Michael Crawford (junior, 17-26 at 182, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Peyton Horner (junior, 6-17 at 195, did not compete in post-season); McKenzie Lewis (senior, 38-12 at 285, district 4th, region 4th, 0-2 at states).
Key addition: Trever Gladson (sophomore, transferred from Tennessee).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Stevie Chopek (sophomore, district champ at 113, region 3rd, state runnerup, transferred to Clay); Dylan Youmans (120, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal); Jacob Godsave (126, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Zach Watson (132, 1 match from regions); Grant Stanish (junior, district 3rd at 138, 1-2 at regions, transferred to Clay); John Parker (160, district champ, region champ, 1 match from state medal); Noah Winebarger (195, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); TJ Holton (220, district 4th, 0-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Solid experience is back, as kids who got several matches (not just those listed above) will step in and show what they can do. Schedule has improved significantly over the past couple of seasons. We started seeing more off-season work being done this summer.
Program needs: The graduation losses were already pretty substantial, but the transfer losses might hurt just as much, given the youth of the kids who left. Incoming freshmen will need to help out the lower weights.
Matmen’s take: Yulee was a clear #2 in the district last year, and the Hornets might not be this year. I think this coaching staff can make it happen, and have a chance to make County defense happen, but it could be much more of a fight.

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